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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, December 29, 2003

 

Dean vs Nixon http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-oe-kurlansky29dec29,1,4444064.story?coll=la-home-politics

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, December 29, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
This editorial in the LA Times is a rare breed of political analysis - the kind that uses history to lend perspective, rather than whitewash fodder. It discusses the legacy of Nixon and the beginning of the Republican Southern Strategy of using coded racism as an appeal to white men.

In discussing the campaign ahead, Howard Dean has said on several occasions now that the Republicans will "do what they've been doing since 1968." But what exactly is that? As far as I can tell, what they've been doing is winning presidential elections. They have won six of the last nine if you count the last one that they did not exactly win.

Of course, that's not exactly what Dean meant. He meant that for him to win in 2004 he has to defeat a system established in 1968 by Richard M. Nixon. Never one to mince words, Dean has described that system as one of "coded racism." And its key code phrase was "states' rights," an old Southern favorite going back to the right to own slaves.

Nixon, always known more as an opportunist than an ideologue, assessed the political landscape when he ran for president in 1968, a time when Republicans had lost every presidential election since the Depression, except for two by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Like Dean today, he asked why are we losing and how can that be changed?

Nixon saw his opportunity in the decline of the great civil rights movement and the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. He judged that the South, a solid Democratic bloc that had never forgiven Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans for the Emancipation Proclamation, was furious about 10 years of civil rights progress and was ready to turn on the Democrats, who had received faithful Southern support since before the Civil War. In the end, Nixon defeated the Democrats not because of their worst disaster, Vietnam, but because of their greatest accomplishment, civil rights.


The article goes on to explain how Nixon snubbed Rockefeller for Vice President, choosing Agnew in order to seal a bargain with segregationist Strom Thurmond, who has switched to the GOP under the understanding that Nixon would pick a "states rights" veep. It also details Nixon's success at packing the Supreme Court with anti-civil rights justices, including the first use of a filibuster to block a Supreme Court nominee in American history.

This article is essential reading! Dean's now famous remarks about the confederate flag were aimed squarely at Nixon's legacy - we need to re-unite the nation from the divisive racial politics that are still being used to sway voters into voting against their economic self-interest.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.